Oliver A. "Ollie" Carnegie
(The Italian Connection)
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 5' 7", Weight 175 lb.
Ollie Carnegie was the all-time home run king of the International League for 69 years, having knocked out 258 homers. (Mike Hessman broke that record in 2014.) Carnegie is still IL all-time RBI leader with 1,044. His career is more impressive when you consider the fact that he barely played any pro baseball before the age of 30.
In 1922 Carnegie played for the Flint Vehicles of the Michigan-Ontario League. He hit just .219 with one homer in seven games and an operation for appendicitis seemingly ended his career. Nine years later he returned to baseball after losing a job working for the railroads. The 32-year-old signed on with the Hazleton Mountaineers of the New York-Penn League and acquitted himself well, hitting .354 with 18 homers in 58 contests. The Buffalo Bisons of the IL purchased the outfielder's contract for $500 later in the year and he hit .345 in 15 games for the Bisons.
Carnegie became a starter for Buffalo and he smacked 36 homers, third in the IL. Ollie hit .333/~.381/.618 and drove in 140 runners, 4 less than the legendary Buzz Arlett, who led the league. In 1933 Carnegie and outfield mate Ollie Tucker almost equally split 56 homers between them - 29 for Carnegie, 27 for Tucker. Carnegie again was third in the league and hit .317/~.381/.573.
In 1934, Carnegie was just one homer behind IL leader Vince Barton despite missing time to injuries. Ollie hit .335/~.426/.615 and was second in the league with 136 RBI - in just 120 games. '35 saw Ollie connect for 37 long balls, his second straight 2nd-place finish. He led the league with 110 strikeouts but drove in 153, also good for second place. He hi .293/~.359/.568.
When Buffalo finished first in 1936, Carnegie was a bystander due to an ankle injury that limited him to 50 games in the field. Ollie hit .244/~.305/.347. He was 36 years old, been injured two of the last three years and seemingly in decline after a nice four years at the highest level of the minors.
Carnegie returned to regular duty in 1937 and showed his bat still held some pop. The left fielder hit .308/~.357/.507 with 21 homers and 97 RBI. In 1938 the 39-year-old slugger had a career year - he was IL MVP and hit .330/.385/.649. He led the league in slugging, RBI (136), strikeouts (98) and homers (45). Carnegie had outperformed some younger players who had starred in the majors - Babe Herman and Heinie Manush, plus Rogers Hornsby, who was 3 years older. He beat out Charlie Keller of the champion Newark Bears for the MVP. As of 2005, no other IL MVP has failed to play a game in the majors.
Instead of fading off into the sunset, Carnegie returned to lead the league in homers once more at age 40 - his 6th top-3 finish in 6 seasons as a regular in the IL. Ollie hit 29 homers in 1939 and also led with 112 RBI. He hit .294/~.359/.531. He finally began to lose some performance in 1940 when he homered 15 times in 97 games and hit .281/~.341/.483 and two teammates hit more homers.
In 1941 the 42-year-old only appeared in 37 games in the field, though he was still pinch-hitting on ocasion. He hit .257/~.286/.446 and almost outhomered any of the starting outfielders (Carnegie hit 7; Mayo Smith led the outfielders with 11).
Carnegie ended his decade in Buffalo in 1942 when he went to the Lockport White Sox and hit .310 with 17 homers in the PONY League. After a year of coaching in Buffalo in 1943 for longtime teammate Greg Mulleavy, Ollie hit .305 in the PONY League in 1944 as player-manager for the Jamestown Falcons, leading the team to a playoff victory over Mulleavy's Lockport Cubs. In 1945, with a manpower shortage due to World War II, Ollie was back in Buffalo. At age 46, Carnegie hit .301/~.369/.505 in 39 games to show he could still swing the bat. He hit the final 4 homers of his illustrious IL career that season. In 1947 he was named as part of the inaugural class of the International League Hall of Fame.
Carnegie was named to the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame in 1992, and was also inducted into the Buffalo Baseball Hall of Fame in 1985.
Year-by-Year Managerial Record
|1944||Jamestown Falcons||PONY League||70-54||2nd||League Champs|